ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

New 4-H leader Hannah Sieberg navigates her first Beltrami County Fair

With the Beltrami County Fair back in action, plenty of youth involved in the 4-H program are busy exhibiting their hard work and dedication for public display. But this year, they’re also debuting Hannah Sieberg, Beltrami County’s new 4-H Youth Development Extension educator, who is guiding them through the ins and outs of the five-day event while also learning the ropes herself.

081421.N.BP.BELTRAMIFAIR1.jpg
This year’s county fair is the first for Hannah Sieberg, extension educator for 4-H youth development in Beltrami County, as last year's fair was canceled. She joined Beltrami County 4-H in June 2020. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
We are part of The Trust Project.

BEMIDJI -- With the Beltrami County Fair back in action, plenty of youth involved in the 4-H program are busy exhibiting their hard work and dedication for public display. But this year, they’re also debuting Hannah Sieberg, Beltrami County’s new 4-H Youth Development Extension educator, who is guiding them through the ins and outs of the five-day event while also learning the ropes herself.

It’s Sieberg’s first Beltrami County Fair in her new position despite taking on the role last June. At the time, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, resulting in Zoom 4-H meetings, scaled back 4-H activities, and ultimately, a canceled county fair. During that time, a virtual 4-H showcase was held, with about 25 youth participating.

“Slowly things this calendar year have picked up, and everyone was really excited to be able to have a county fair,” Sieberg said. “I wasn't really able to meet people and see things in action right away, but it’s fun now being able to meet more people and put faces to names. There's been a lot of learning this week and this past year, but it all comes together.”

081421.N.BP.BELTRAMIFAIR3.jpg
Pigs Greta and Ginger have a nap in the barn on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, at the Beltrami County Fair. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

ADVERTISEMENT

Growing up, Sieberg was not a 4-H’er, but rather a Girl Scout. It wasn’t until after college that the 26-year-old said she became interested in being a part of the University of Minnesota Extension.

“I was a Girl Scout troop leader, so I've been a volunteer and worked with youth a little bit, but this is a whole new game,” Sieberg said. “It's a complex program but a really good one.”

And there’s a multitude of folks -- from office assistants to other 4-H educators in the state -- helping Sieberg navigate those complexities. She cites fair volunteers and organizers, as well as longtime 4-H’ers, with helping her, as a first-timer, coordinate the program at the fair.

“I’m just soaking it all in. I’m learning a lot and learning where to ask for help and delegate. We’ve got some awesome people here helping and jumping right in,” Sieberg said. “For a lot of our volunteers, this isn’t their first year volunteering, and our superintendents in the barns really know what they’re doing. They’re veterans, which is really helpful for me, too.”

081421.N.BP.BELTRAMIFAIR2.jpg
Lily Krona holds onto her sheep in the barn on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, at the Beltrami County Fair. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Lily Krona, an 18-year-old 4-H’er in her 11th year in the program, is one of those people helping Sieberg get her footing. Along with preparing her photography for exhibition and market lambs and pigs for show, Krona has been busy readying barns and static exhibits in the 4-H Hall for the past couple of weeks.

“Everything has been going really well. Hannah’s fitting in great and we’ve been doing a lot of preparation work and planning for months and months for this,” Krona said. “It’s one of my last years in 4-H, but this is definitely one of my favorite parts of the summer.”

ADVERTISEMENT

More than 200 youth registered in the fair this year, with more than 2,000 entries in total. While Sieberg thinks fair attendance is steady so far, she said 4-H fair participation is down from previous years. Livestock entries are at about 50% compared to 2019, and static exhibits are down about 400 from that same year.

“In 2020, 4-H’ers weren't really able to meet in person, things weren’t happening, and we didn't have a fair. And now we’re trying to get back to (normal) with the pandemic still going on,” Sieberg said. “It’s a bouncing back type of thing, but I’d say I’m happy with what we have entered this year. It’s always impressive to see what the kids bring for the fair.”

There are currently about 90 volunteers screened with the 4-H program and 12 active clubs in the county. And Sieberg said she was happy to note that the 4-H program hit its 300 member mark for the 2020-21 year recently. While membership has met that number in the past, she said it’s encouraging to see it return in recent months after a tough year.

“It’s a strong program here, and that’s made it easy for me,” Sieberg said.

Bria Barton covers travel and tourism for Forum News Service and is based at the Bemidji Pioneer. A South Carolina native and USC grad, she can be found exploring Minnesota’s abundance of towns, food and culture. Follow her on Instagram @briabarton.
What To Read Next
The Beltrami County Jail has been ordered to reduce inmate capacity after a Minnesota DOC investigation showed that the jail's minimum staffing requirements were not met on several occasions.
Denae Alamano, executive director of United Way of Bemidji Area, has been named board president for the United Ways of Minnesota.
Five people have been indicted for child abuse charges including child torture and child neglect that occurred in the Red Lake Nation from January 2021 to April 2022.
The Bemidji Area Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship of America chapter is set to meet at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, in the community room at Beltrami Electric, 4111 Technology Drive NW.